Current WRC points leader Sebastien Loeb has admitted that preserving tyres could play a key part in deciding who comes out on top in the Acropolis Rally this weekend.
Loeb saw his winning run this season come to an end last time out in Sardinia, ironically after a puncture on the second day dropped him vital time before he was given a further penalty for co-driver Daniel Elena breaking seat belt runs as the pair stopped to change the tyre.
The Citroen driver retains a healthy 17 point lead in the standings heading to Greece, and he admits that looking after tyres could decide the winner this time around on one of the more challenging events on the schedule.
"Sometimes you really mustn't hesitate to lift over the rougher parts to make sure you don't damage anything or puncture,” he said. “Our C4 WRC and our Pirelli Scorpion tyres are very strong, but you're talking here about very extreme conditions, especially when the weather is hot.
"It's true that last year's outcome was chiefly down to tyre management. It just wasn't possible to drive the entire rally flat out. It didn't take me long to realise that our tyres wouldn't be able withstand that sort of rhythm on the long Aghii Teodori test. I found a good compromise pace and that enabled me to complete that loop of stages without puncturing. With experience, you get to sense whether you're asking too much of your machine."
Despite admitting that sometimes you need to take it easy on the Acropolis, Loeb said he would still be pushing hard for victory in order to try and extend his advantage over Mikko Hirvonen in the standings.
"Our 17-point lead in the championship should incite us to try to control our advantage, but I will be out to win,” he said. “As we saw in Sardinia, nothing can ever be taken for granted and we can't afford to ease up in any way. I'm expecting it to be a difficult event, especially since our rivals have a habit of going well in Greece."